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Key | Spring 2009

A Cold Season in the Hamptons

Published: March 11, 2009

“Then came the dreary series of events that we can summarize, as Hamptons people do, by reciting a litany of names: Bear Stearns; Fannie and Freddie; Lehman; Madoff. Since the peak, as one horrific episode after another has unfolded, the area’s real estate market has mirrored Wall Street’s plunging fortunes. Average sale prices have declined by about 10 percent, but that only hints at the seriousness of the trouble, because hardly anything is moving. According to data collected by the Suffolk Research Service, a local real estate data company, the number of sales in 2008 fell by 25 percent in East Hampton, 39 percent in Bridgehampton, 45 percent in Southampton and 47 percent in Montauk. Things really collapsed during the fall. Investment bankers lost their jobs, corporate lawyers saw their client base vaporize and hedge-fund managers went from being hailed as geniuses to being hauled in front of Congressional committees. “Until the market improves or their mental state improves, they’re not buying anything,” says Herb Phillips, a veteran real estate agent who is also chairman of the Southampton town zoning board. “It’s dead.”

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